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Plott finishes Second at NCAA Championships

By Jayson Knight

In his fourth season representing Oklahoma State University, Tuttle alumnus Dustin Plott finished his season Saturday at the 2024 NCAA Wrestling Championships in Kansas City, Missouri as a National Runner-Up in the 184-pound weight class.

Plott came into the tournament ranked third in the country, and defeated Minnesota U’s No. 2 Isaiah Salazar Friday in the semifinals with a major decision 11-2. Plott also won via major decision in the quarterfinals over Penn State’s No. 6 Bernie Truax.

Parker Keckeisen, from the University of Northern Iowa, won the Finals match.

Plott and Daton Fix were both National Finalists for OSU, which finished tenth as a team.

“It went all right,” Plott said Monday.“Obviously, I would have liked to win in the Finals, but other than that, I think I competedas good as I ever have andI scored a lot of points and I had a good time.”

Last year, Plott earned All-America honors and won a conference title for the second year in a row at 174 pounds.This year, Plott finished 31-4, his best season record yet, even after jumping up a weight class.

“It was definitely different going up in weight,” the Tuttle alum said. “I felt a lot better not having to cut as much weight. I got tofocus more on my skill, getting better at wrestling. Guys were a little bit stronger, butit’s good.”

Plott shared a couple of his standout moments from his senior season, the first being in Stillwater Sunday, January 21 when he took on Oregon State’s Trey Munoz.

“He finished third at NCAA,” Plott said. “He’s really great wrestler andI’d been sick all week leading up to it and wasn’t surehow I was going to feel, or how I was going to compete, and I found a way to win the match under adverse conditions, so that one definitely sticks out during the season. As far as the national tournament goes, the match that sticks out to me was my quarterfinals againstTruaxfrom Penn State, another really great high-caliber wrestler and someone that I didn’t think I stylistically matched up with well, but I was able to go execute and wrestle a really good match against him.”

Plott was a two-time state champion for Tuttle in 2018 and 2019, and was recruited to OSU alongside fellow Tuttle alum Luke Surber, who was a three-time champ for Tuttle. The two continue to wrestle in the same training room, as they have for many years now.

Surber went 13-9 this season at 197 pounds. He qualified for the NCAA Championships as the No. 27 seed, but unfortunately went 0-2 with losses to No. 6 Lou DePrez (Binghamton) and No. 11 Jaxon Smith (Maryland). Surber finished sixth at the Big 12 Championships to earn an automatic bid into NCAAs. He dealt with injuries throughout the year and missed a bit of time early, but still managed to beat four ranked opponents and had nine bonus-point wins.

Plott said, “It’s been great wrestling with Luke.The first time I was on the team with Luke was our eighth-grade year, so this is our ninth yearwe’ve been together on the same team. It’s always awesome too.I always know someone’s got my back. I alwayshave a friend, andthis year moving up a weight class, we got to train together a little bit more, which is really cool. It’s something we hadn’t got to do much in our careers, just because in high school, he was smaller, and then in college, he passed me up and he was bigger.Now,we’re close enough in size where we can train together and he’s been great for me, and I think I’vebeen good for him too.”

Despite finishing among the best grapplers in the world over the weekend, Plott said he is passionate about his wrestling career, but it cannot define him.

“I’m a competitor, so anything less than first place is always  going to be a letdown to me,” Plott said.“That’s just how God made me to be.It’s not a bad thing. As I’ve gotten older though, I don’t put as much emphasis on the sport as a whole.Wrestling is my passion. It’s what’s consumed most of my life thus far, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t define me, especially the losses or the bad momentsthroughout my career.They’ll never define me.I had a great season. I’m proud of the way I competed, at Nationals as well.Second still hurts. I’m not going to say that it’s gone away or it’s been lessened, but I think that I recognize now thatit’s not an end-all.It’s not win or die.It’s ‘I came up short, I gotta get better.’ I have to get stronger.As a competitor, I’m super thankful just to have someone at my weight that I’m  going to have to pursue and someone I’m  going to have to train for until next year. I’ll get to wrestle him again next year I think. I know what adversity does to me as an individual and how I grow from it. And so while it does suck right now, I know what’s going to come from it will be good.”

Plott said he kept up with Tuttle Wrestling over the Tigers’ season, which culminated in the program’s 16th consecutive state title. The Tigers won the state tournament by a landslide, as they have more than a dozen times, with eight Tuttle wrestlers making the finals. Tuttle juniors Beau Hickman and Ethan Teague were named State Champions at their respective weight classes, but the entire program worked together to maintain the legacy that Plott contributed to as well.

“I always keep up with the state tournament,” Plott said.“There were matches that were televised when we weren’t competing at the same time or didn’t have practice. I definitely tried to tune in tosome of the duals, especially the Hall of Fame Duals, but yeah, I still keep up with it.I thought they did good.Having that many guys in the finals and only two champs, I mean it stings a little bit, but I think it’s a testament to how good of a semifinal round they had.”

Plott and Surber still have one more year of NCAA eligibility, so expect to see them both continue representing OSU and Tuttle on the mats next year.

“Talking about wrestling andreally all this, I could have never done it on my own.God’s given me the ability to wrestle, and why that is, I’m still not sure yet. I’m still trying to do my best to figure outwhy He gave me this gift, butthe freedom I’ve experienced since accepting Christ as my Savior issurreal. I have freedom,joy, purpose in my life, and I couldn’t be more thankful for that. That’s kind of thesole focus of my life. Wrestling is something I do. It’s not who I am. My main focus is not on worldly things. I know there’s more for me.”

Oklahoma State Sports Information Director Jake LeForce contributed to this report.

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